Fall 2012 │ Number 76
The Newsletter of the Bay Area Restoration Council
Harbour Hope Springs Eternal Despite the falling leaves this time of year, there are recent and remarkable signs of rebirth and growth occurring in Hamilton Harbour. The most visible new ‘shoot’ is Sarcoa Restaurant & Bar now operating in the former Parks Can‐ ada Marine Discovery Centre—having been itself renamed recently the HWT Centre. With a 350‐seat patio overlook‐ ing Pier 8 and the North Shore, Sarcoa is as stunning as it is unique to anywhere in western Lake Ontario. Its local ownership has created a special place at the water’s edge that we hope will be a catalyst for further opportunities to enjoy the Bay. Be sure to visit BARC’s new outreach loca‐ tion when you go, we look right across the lobby at Sarcoa.
local funding for this hugely important project. Hamilton also recently made a significant investment in upgrades to the Woodward Wastewater Treatment Plant, and the City is behind the restoration of Windermere Basin, a thirteen‐ hectare coastal wetland project of national significance. The Windermere project is the main focus of BARC’s Fall Workshop “Celebrating Success in the East Harbour.”
Also in this issue, RAP co‐ ordinator John Hall de‐ scribes the positive out‐ comes of the 2012 RAP Stakeholder Forum that took another close look at the endgoals for finishing the Harbour’s remediation. And, in the spirit of col‐ laboration, we reprint a witty piece of insight by Bob Gibson of Alternatives Journal.
Schematic diagram of the restoration plan for Windermere Basin.
The view from Sarcoa is unlike anything Bay Area diners have known. Is there a better patio on western Lakes Ontario? Photo: Sarcoa Restaurant & Bar .
Other signs of a growing momentum are less visible, but are no less significant. One sign is recent local funding commitments to the plan to contain toxic sediment at Randle Reef. Both Hamilton and Burlington have both helped this summer and fall to move much closer to full
Finally, Gail Krantzberg of McMaster University shares her insights on past and future keys to continued commu‐ nity connection to the Bay. Readers are, as always, encouraged to participate in BARC’s volunteer plant‐ ings. The picture at right shows what can happen These new cattails are evidence of when citizens decide to BARC volunteers up to their elbows make a positive difference. in Sunfish Pond, just below RBG’s And mucking about in the Laking Garden. September, 2012. Bay is great fun! Photo: Kelly Pike.
The Bay Area Restoration Council represents the public interest in efforts to revitalize Hamilton Harbour and its watershed.
Bringing Back the Bay Fall 2012
Taking It To The Streets Ilona Feldmann, Public Outreach and Research Intern One of the most enjoyable aspects of my job this summer was delivering children’s programs throughout Hamil‐ ton. I’ve had the opportunity to present to children and youth at schools, camps, clubs and large events including the Royal Botanical Garden’s Ecofest, the Hamilton Chil‐ dren’s Water Festival and the Hamilton Waterfront Trust’s Fishing Derby. During these presentations and events I had a lot of fun, but more importantly, I discov‐ ered the true value of BARC’s educational programs. The two mainstays of BARC’s school programs are Stream of Dreams™ and Yellow Fish Road™. Stream of Dreams™ is an incredibly rewarding program for stu‐ dents and their community. The entire school is involved from start to finish; students, teachers, principals and vol‐ unteer parents take part in the program – it becomes a whole school education. The process of painting the fish, of course, is always a big hit, but I also got the impression that students really did appreciate why they were paint‐ ing the fish. There was a very evident sense of pride. As the educator delivering the program, I also felt a sense of pride and accomplishment. There was a similar sense of accomplishment among chil‐ dren and youth who participated in our Yellow Fish Road™ Program. It is safe to say that everyone who took part in the activity had a blast, but they also knew they were doing something good and meaningful, and in areas
BAY AREA RESTORATION COUNCIL Life Sciences Building – B130F 1280 Main Street West, Hamilton, Ontario L8S 4K1 (905) 527‐7111 • email@example.com HamiltonHarbour.ca
where children are less fortunate, having the opportu‐ nity to contribute and do something good can be very empowering.
Although all of the participants were eager to learn about environmental and Harbour‐related issues, I was often surprised by the number of children that knew very little about where they lived, especially given their proximity to the Harbour and the Lake. This lack of knowledge under‐ lines the value of BARC, an organi‐ zation able to fill a very unique gap and educate those who would other‐ Another neighbourhood reminder that wise not have the all drains lead to fish. opportunity to learn about local environmental issues.
“Thank you so much for coming to Daycamp on Friday to be our theme visitor. Your presentation was excellent and you did a great job of involving the children. I appreciate your positive and supportive way with the children, they loved your presentation.”
—a thank‐you note from a counselor where BARC recently delivered Stream of Dreams ™
Bringing Back the Bay is published four times per year. Articles in this newsletter reflect the views of the individual contributors. Your comments and letters to the editor are encouraged.
Scott Koblyk, President Martin Keller, Vice President Victor Cairns, Treasurer
Chris McLaughlin, Executive Director Kelly Pike, Program Manager Karen Logan, Administration & Finance Coordinator Ilona Feldmann, Public Outreach and Research Intern Tom Wiercioch, Communications Intern
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This Project was undertaken with the financial support of the Government of Canada provided through the Department of the Environment. Ce Projet a été réalisé avec l’appui financier du Gouvernement du Canada agissant par l’entremise du Ministère de l’Environnement. Funding for this newsletter generously provided by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment.
Community Outreach 2.0 Tom Wiercioch, Communications Intern One of the most important things that BARC does is to ensure that the Hamilton Harbour watershed commu‐ nity is educated, informed and active in Hamilton Har‐ bour matters. Just tell any kid whose school partici‐ pated in the Stream of Dreams™ program that you dis‐ pose of your paint down the drain and you will get an earful, guaranteed.
issues from a lack of drinking water in Bayfront Park, no clear map of the Harbour, to the problem of invasive spe‐ cies. A lot of positive comments have been heard too. Bayfront Park is accessible, beautiful and a staple of Ham‐ ilton. People love spending an afternoon at the Harbour and it shows. The kiosk is a place for people to get in‐ formed about the park and the Harbour and is quickly becoming a staple of the area. BARC has also taken measures to create a virtual space for Harbour issues. Last summer saw the advent of BARC’s twitter and blog pages. The latter has almost be‐ come a virtual kiosk as questions that people ask the ki‐ osk make their way online and are answered for more people to see. Recently, BARC’s 2012 Toward Safe Har‐ bours Report Card was highlighted, along with pieces on feeding waterfowl and Victoria Day events. Essentially, it is a place where people can get informed and active based on what the community seems to be discussing with re‐ gard to the Harbour.
BARC’s open for business at Hamilton’s Bayfront Kiosk
BARC takes a “hands‐on” approach with their out‐ reach. Having volunteers and employees physically out in the community has been a great success for not only the organization, but the health of the Harbour. This approach was expanded last year with the opening of an Information Kiosk along the Waterfront Trail in Bay‐ front Park. The kiosk, which is a joint project with Green Venture, has become a sort of tent pole for infor‐ mation about the area. Fishermen ask about the native fish, cyclists ask for in‐ teresting trails to explore, tourists (yes, they are coming to Hamilton, and they are going to the waterfront) have a wide palette of questions and the locals always have a story to tell that often begins with, “This one day in the Harbour I…” The City of Hamilton’s Bayfront Kiosk provides an ex‐ change of benefits. For BARC it is a way to connect with the community. BARC volunteers, interns and employ‐ ees get to hear the concerns of the public that is using the Harbour. It has brought to the forefront a range of
Twitter has become a hub of information in Hamilton, about Hamilton. With the arrival of CBC Hamilton, Can‐ ada’s first entirely digital public service, social network‐ ing has increased in importance in the city. BARC is try‐ ing to be a part of the digital conversation in the same way it is in the real world. By informing and educating, it is believed that people will become more active and make changes to the world if necessary. We hope that through a variety of public outreach projects, BARC will continue to bring the community together.
Thanks Tom! Once again, we say farewell to Tom Wiercioch. Tom has interned for BARC for three of the last four sum‐ mers. His 2012 stint with BARC has been spent mostly training volunteers at the Bayfront kiosk and BARC’s new outreach location at the former Discov‐ ery Centre—when he wasn’t pulling all‐nighters to successfully finish his MA in communications. Well done, Tom! He has also been our social media guru, expanding our profile on Facebook and Twitter. We know (and are thankful) that we haven’t seen the last of Tom, however, as he’s one of our most trusted volunteers!
Bringing Back the Bay Fall 2012 3
In Conversation With Gail Krantzberg
Ontario’s proposed Great Lakes Protection Act and the importance of celebrating success
icy advisor on Great Lakes priorities. She previously served on the IJCʹs Great Lakes Water Quality Board, and was coordinator of the Collingwood Harbour Remedial Action Plan (RAP) – the first RAP to be delisted as a Great Lakes Area of Concern (AOC).
BARC: What’s the most important message regarding Great Lakes restoration that you’ve focused on lately?
The Great Lakes Protection Act is proposed provincial leg‐ islation that the Ontario government suggests would im‐ prove our ability to protect Great Lakes beaches, wetlands, and other coastal areas through new partnership arrange‐ ments and new responses to specific Great Lakes problems. The initiative would establish a Great Lakes Guardians’ Council and a Great Lakes Strategy with a related Great Lakes Guardian Community Fund to support grassroots initiatives.
What should we expect from the proposed legislation? Re‐ cently, BARC sat down with Gail Krantzberg, one of North Americaʹs foremost experts on Great Lakes ecology and policy, to find out. Dr. Krantzberg is a professor and direc‐ tor of the ArcelorMittal Dofasco Centre for Engineering and Public Policy at McMaster University. Prior to arriving at McMaster in 2005, she was the director of the Interna‐ tional Joint Commission’s (IJC) Great Lakes Regional Of‐ fice, and served for 13 years at the Ontario Ministry of the Environment (MOE) as an ecotoxicologist and senior pol‐
Gail Krantzberg: It’s important to keep our perspective over time as our understanding of the Lakes as a system continues to evolve. Even as the problems themselves con‐ tinue to evolve. Fifty years ago, fish kills were common. Forty years ago, we responded with the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, we brought phosphorus under control to a great degree, and as a result we saw dramatic change. Thirty years ago, we learned that chemicals in a variety of common products were causing deformities in eagles and other wildlife species, and we responded. Twenty‐five years ago, we implemented the Remedial Action Plan pro‐ gram. Some RAPs have made great progress, Hamilton among them, without question. But still, we continue to have problems with phosphorus and algal blooms, count‐ less non‐point sources of pollution, invasive species such as zebra mussels and the present danger posed by Asian carp. We still find male fish with ovaries at the tail end of sewage treatment plants, and I’m especially concerned about the continuing change in the nature of chemicals in the Lakes.
Image: National Film Board of Canada / Primitive Entertainment
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Most importantly, human stewardship or ownership of these kinds of situations hasn’t really caught on in a deeply meaningful or significant way. We as individuals have such an impact on the land and on natural systems, from the pills we flush down the drain, to what we pave over, to the way we produce and use energy, to the chemicals we wash off our driveways or throw out with the garbage, to the amount and quality of the water we send back through the sewers. And government could do more to engage the public in these issues and the public role in creating the solutions.
Individual actions do add up, it’s the only way it’s going to work. BARC: Does the proposed Great Lakes Protection Act do more to engage the public?
Gail Krantzberg: This is where community interests such as BARC probably benefit most, because the government’s initiative is intended to help partners get together, acting almost like seed money, and I think there’s the potential for this to be very helpful for RAPs. There was a time when the provincial attitude was that “we don’t really have an interest in the Great Lakes.’ But now in 2012, we are seeing a complete turnaround with this Great Lakes Protection Act. And the premier must be supporting it, and that’s fan‐ tastic.
BARC: Can you elaborate on the appropriate role for gov‐ ernment?
Gail Krantzberg: There’s a perception that when you say pollution, people think industry. They don’t appreciate that, as urban people especially, everything you do on the land affects the Lakes. Drive your car and you impact the Lakes. The products you choose impact the Lakes. What you do on your property affects the Lakes. We each have our own individual responsibilities, and the notion that there’s nothing that one person can do on their own is a fallacy. Individual actions do add up. It’s the only way it’s going to work.
So if there’s one place where the government isn’t doing enough, it’s in public engagement, which again is where Ontario’s Great Lakes Protection Act comes in. We really need government leadership to get the public engaged. Activists and groups like BARC can only do so much. A lot of the content makes a lot of sense. It’s not about a lot of new regulation. It’s about enabling a lot of new volunteer initiatives, which I think is appropriate.
BARC: How would you characterize our progress in Ham‐ ilton Harbour in particular?
Gail Krantzberg: There are very few examples of success in the large AOCs such as Hamilton Harbour, and a lot of examples of next to no progress at all. The Hamilton Har‐ bour RAP is the shining Canadian success story, maybe even the binational AOC success story. In part, it’s the luck of being in the middle of the Canada Centre for Inland Wa‐ ters, the National Water Research Institute, McMaster, and so forth. And in Hamilton you’ve had amazing RAP coor‐ dinators getting people to work together, and industry with a real sense of stewardship and responsibility. You don’t see that everywhere. I’ve seen industry extremely recalcitrant in many other AOCs. There’s always been this community involvement here.
There’s something special about the community around the Harbour in Hamilton. Talk to people at City Hall – the RAP Office and BARC have done a wonderful job of pro‐ moting the RAP. In other places they simply don’t have that profile. Here you’ve got a real classic case of leader‐ ship, in the broadest sense of the word – people with a sense of ownership in Hamilton that are really contributing to the community.
The Hamilton Harbour RAP is the shining Canadian AOC success story, maybe even the binational AOC success story.
BARC: What’s something you’d like to see more of in Hamilton Harbour? Gail Krantzberg: First of all, I’m a big fan of measuring and celebrating incremental progress and success. It’s too easy to forget how well the process has worked in Hamil‐ ton because so much of what we accomplish happens in small, seemingly insignificant ways.
Fifteen years ago, I gave a talk on the tenth anniversary of the RAP program. I said that if we use the number of AOCs that have been delisted as a measure of success, meaning only one out of 43 at the time, then the program is a complete failure. However, if we measure incremental implementation and recovery then, even back that long ago, we were already about half way there.
So the BARC report card, for example, is an important part of documenting that progress. To maintain the public’s ongoing interest and willingness to participate in recovery means that you have to celebrate those small successes loudly and often. Most RAPs are not very good at that, and the Province too, isn’t very good at that. People want to join success, so you have to tell those important incre‐ mental success stories.
Bringing Back the Bay Fall 2012 5
The example above shows the relationship between objec‐ tives or standards set for our Harbour to delist and some of those actions we need to take to achieve the outcome. As expected it is more involved and broader than this simple RAP Office example. This fall our Bay Area Implementation Team will Canada Centre for Inland Waters review the delisting objectives established by the Stake‐ 867 Lakeshore Road, Box 5050 holder Forum and develop a five‐year workplan. Similar Burlington, Ontario L7R 4A6 to the updating of the delisting objectives from those origi‐ 905-336-6279 nally established in 1992 and 2002, our planning will draw upon past experience from previous five‐year workplans. Keep in mind this example is just one of 14 Beneficial Use areas that was reviewed by our Stakeholders. When you combine all the scientific objectives and remedial actions we get a Harbour where people can swim, recreate, eat the fish and our waters and marshes are filled with healthy fish and wildlife. John D. Hall MCIP, RPP HHRAP Coordinator On June 20th the Stakeholder Forum representing more Our Stakeholder Forum discussions were led by Randy then 40 groups approved environmental objectives for the French, a third party facilitator, and we thank the many Bay. It took five meetings and some intense discussion but scientists and presenters who contributed to the meetings. we did it! We updated the scientific outcomes for the Re‐ Most importantly we thank the Stakeholders who commit‐ ted their time for four hours each evening during five medial Action Plan. meetings from January to June. The group worked by con‐ In last year’s summer and fall newsletters I explained the sensus and reached consensus on all their decisions. process the group would follow. We prepared fact sheets and had scientists prepare presentations. All this material In closing, I want to highlight one of the best new places to was posted on the BARC website and for those interested, visit in the Harbour: the “HWT Centre”. Congratulations it provides a short course on the condition of the Harbour. to the Hamilton Waterfront Trust in creating a new func‐ Stakeholders were asked to evaluate if the standards set tion for this site. If you haven’t been to this location, go are reasonable, achievable and measurable. We think we and treat yourself. Just the kind of place which some of the original visionaries of the renewed Harbour, such as Gil achieved those requirements. Simmons, would be proud of. So what did we accomplish? First of all we brought our most active participants in the Remedial Action Plan up to date on progress made and what is left to accomplish. They also got great insight into some of the complexities of the science involved. Secondly and most importantly we updated and brought more precision to the outcomes we want to accomplish to delist this Harbour as a Great Lakes Area of Concern. You can find all the details on the BARC website at www.hamiltonharbour.ca/rap . Let’s look at a simplified example of how the work of the Stakeholders relates to remedial actions. When it comes to water quality, scientific delisting objectives were set to define cleaner, clearer and healthier water. These objectives prin‐ Hamilton Harbour remediation: are we there yet? Public access to the Bay— cipally require reductions in phosphorus, ammonia and one of the measures of success in the Remedial Action Plan—has increased suspended solids. The most significant remedial actions to from about 3% to 30% of the shoreline in the past twenty years. achieve these reductions are the upgrades to the Region of Halton’s Skyway and the City of Hamilton’s Woodward Wastewater Treatment Plants.
RAP Office Update
Stakeholder Forum Completes Its Work
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Community All of us have the guts to admit our co‐dependents Robert Gibson
You have roughly 100 trillion bacteria‐ and other microbes living in or on your body. They outnumber your human cells 10 to one. It’s something to ponder next time you find yourself wishing for intimate company.
crobial life. In humans and other mammals, great and diverse crowds of bacteria are beavering away down in our guts. Though my microbial community will differ from yours, especially if our diets are quite different, we all depend on them. No bacteria, no digestion, no life.
You and your tiny tenants are part of a profoundly close relationship that dates back long before you, indeed long before humans. For the last few generations, we have ex‐ tended life expectancy by launching antibiotic and antisep‐ tic attacks on some of these less agreeable little creatures. On the whole, however, we need our bacteria as much as they need us, and we’ve not been giving them due respect.
It’s all a co‐evolutionary phenomenon. They adapted to us. We adapted to them. We all shifted a bit over time as circumstances changed. In the human gut, the big changes were due to agriculture and cooking, new patho‐ gens, chemical additives and antibiotics. Not all of these have had uniformly cheerful effects, and few of the impli‐ cations are well understood (though the white‐lab‐coat crowd is working on it).
Consider mitochondria, for example. They are our bodies’ energy refineries, converting sugars, proteins and other food energy sources into a compound the body needs for most everything that involves action. But mitochondria did not begin as human parts, and they still have their own DNA. The ancestors of your mitochondria were independ‐ ent bacteria, closely related to the nasties that cause ty‐ phus. A couple of billion years ago, these bacteria were swallowed into the living cells of early plants and animals, establishing a mutually beneficial relationship that had a tremendous effect on the evolution of life.
What is clear is that diversity and collaboration down among the mitochondria and digestive microbes are cru‐ cial to our well‐being, just as they are in bigger realms – city neighbourhoods, ecosystems and the planet as a whole.
It’s enough to make your skin crawl. Except that without the mitochondria, there would be no energy for crawling. A similar story explains chloroplasts, the tiny organisms that were incorporated in plant cells to capture and convert solar energy. They too retain the DNA of their ancient bac‐ terial origins. And they too represent‐ a symbiotic arrange‐ ment that was crucial in evolution and remains a key foun‐ dation of life.
Our basic grasp of these microscopic collaborations goes back nearly 50 years to the pioneering work of Lynn Mar‐ gulis and others, subsequently endorsed by genetic re‐ search. By now one might have expected such evidence about the fundamental importance of symbiosis in evolu‐ tion to have pushed aside the facile idea that progress arises only from competition and conflict.
Since that enlightenment has not yet arrived, perhaps we need to look more closely at our internal entourage of mi‐
All life on Earth apparently emerged, expanded and changed in a great network of competing and supporting influences, with positive and negative forces functioning together as a complex global community. According to the Gaia hypothesis of James Lovelock and Lynn Mar‐ gulis (yes, the same one who understood mitochondria), the planetary system and its innumerable intertwined subsystems has not only been evolving, but also more or less successfully regulating itself to the continued advan‐ tage of life.
We humans are well on our way to messing all that up by disrupting atmospheric chemistry, ecological systems and associated services, in part because we’ve failed to see ourselves as interdependent members of a community. There are no easy fixes for this situation. But as a start, we could try to learn something from our microbial compan‐ ions.
Robert Gibson is chair of the Alternatives editorial board and professor of environmental studies at the University of Water‐ loo. This edition of Gibson’s column “What’s the Big Idea?” is from Alternatives, 38:4 (2012) and has been reprinted with permission. Subscribe at alternativesjournal.ca
Bringing Back the Bay Fall 2012 7
SAVE THE DATE!
FALL WORKSHOP Celebrating success in the east Harbour A workshop and site visit to a restored Windermere Basin Saturday, October 13, 2012, 10:00 AM—1:30 PM Canada Centre for Inland Waters, 867 Lakeshore Road, Burlington
COMMUNITY WORKSHOP Photo: Metroland News Service
What causes algae growth, and what can we do about it? The science, programs, and projects addressing our blue‐green Harbour Saturday, November 10th, 2012, 9:00 AM—11:45 AM HWT (former Discovery) Centre, 57 Discovery Drive, Hamilton
HISTORY NIGHT LECTURE The role of Burlington Bay in the War of 1812 With Dr. Ray Hobbs, President of the Dundas Historical Society Tuesday, November 20, 2012, 7:00 PM—9:00 PM HWT (former Discovery) Centre, 57 Discovery Drive, Hamilton
Seating is limited, please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org or call (905) 527‐7111.
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